Elisha family reunion
July 15, 2005
More than 50 members of the Elisha family and related branches gathered at Difficult Campground in Aspen last weekend for a family reunion.
The Elishas, whose roots in Aspen go back to the late 1800s, clearly consider family ties to be rather important – family members spent months coordinating this reunion, including Steve and Judi (Linhares) Neukomm, who put together a 28-foot genealogical chart displayed during the reunion.
Mansor Elisha, an Assyrian immigrant from the Beirut area, came to Aspen in the 1880s and quickly realized a wise business idea: selling tools and wares at mining camps all over the Roaring Fork Valley. In 1911 Mansor bought the Hotel Jerome for $3,000 in back taxes. (Apparently Mansor and a partner had a “habit” of buying Aspen properties for back taxes – at one point the Elishas owned the three houses across the from the Jerome, including the Elli’s building on the corner of Mill and Main, and the now historic Smith-Elisha house, the family home old-timers know as the Christmas tree house, at 314 West Main.)
The hotel would stay in the family for 50 years, during which time it became Aspen’s de facto community center, a place locals would gather to swim in the pool and catch up with the neighbors. Mansor’s son Laurence ran the Jerome until 1968 – for the last 25 years the Aspen Ski Corp. actually leased the hotel and paid Laurence as a manager. Upon Laurence’s death his wife, Svea (Elder), was faced with nearly $1 million worth of maintenance, and sold the hotel. Laurence’s son Lowell Elisha was superintendent of the Aspen school district for a time in the 1950s, before moving to the Denver area.
Saturday’s reunion brought together branches of the Elisha family – including the Bishops, Portners and Linhareses – that are old familiar Aspen names. Most are scattered across the country now – only one Elisha, Mansor John (who goes by M.J.), lives locally, in Old Snowmass. Robert Elder (Laurence’s nephew by marriage) lives in Glenwood Springs and works in Aspen. The Elder family, who weren’t represented at the reunion, are the soon-to-be former owners of the bright blue Victorian Elder home on Monarch behind the Jerome.